OSHA Constructs a Partnership on Major Manhattan Project

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) hopes a new site-safety and health partnership agreement it signed this week with the construction contractor Bovis Lend Lease, the Building Trades Employers' Association and the Building and Construction Trades Council leads to safer working conditions for Manhattan construction workers.

The partnership is for the ongoing construction project at 731 Lexington Ave. in Manhattan that began on March 1, 2002.

Bovis Lend Lease is providing construction management services at 731 Lexington Ave. for the construction of the new 54-story, 1.4 million square foot, mixed-use building. At the project completion in March 2005, the building will consist of retail, office and residential spaces. Bovis' role is to provide the administration and coordination of construction contractors and ensure compliance with construction environmental, health and safety practices.

OSHA Region 2 Regional Administrator Patricia K. Clark; Manhattan Area Director Richard Mendelson; Anthony Mannion, senior vice president, Bovis Lend Lease; Louis J. Coletti, chairman & CEO, Building Trades Employers' Association; and Edward J. Malloy, president, Building & Construction Trades Council, all signed the agreement.

According to Clark, one of the partnership's goals is to form a contractor/government relationship that will serve to encourage other New York City contractors to improve their safety and health performance. And she noted that the inclusion of the Building Trades Employers' Association and the Building and Construction Trades Council will help further support a framework for positive change within the New York City's construction industry geared towards ensuring employee safety and health.

The partnership was initiated as a result of relationships formed between OSHA and contractors during the clean up operations at the World Trade Center Emergency Project. Bovis Lend Lease was one of the prime contractors in that project and, as a result of their cooperation and commitment to employee safety and health, the partnership was formed.

"Cooperation among labor, management and OSHA is vital to ensure the safety and health of workers on any large and complex construction project," said Mendelson. "This partnership agreement to protect the workers building 731 Lexington Ave. is precisely the type of understanding that fosters such cooperation."

Partnership agreements allow for contractors to be more involved in safety and health and offer incentives from OSHA that will serve to increase emphasis on employee safety and health concerns. Some of these incentives include OSHA-provided training or other assistance with safety and industrial hygiene concerns. The partnership however, does not preclude OSHA from enforcing its mission of addressing complaints, fatalities and serious accidents, nor does it infringe on the rights of employees to report workplace hazards.

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